The rapid spread and danger of the Wuhan coronavirus, COVID-19, is harrowing. Scientists and health experts aren’t entirely sure how to handle the spread of the virus simply by virtue of how new it is. This week, global markets have tanked as investors and speculators anticipate the virus taking a toll on international commerce. Evolution is a cruel, unrelenting mistress, but what has me so irked here has more to do with the reaction to this health crisis.
Make no mistake, I am not downplaying the seriousness of what is becoming a pandemic. Many people will continue to get sick and die. Before I get into my grievances, I’ll take the time to tell you to keep yourself aware of the updates concerning the virus, and consult with official government sources, such as the World Health Organization (UN), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA), or National Health Service (UK and Northern Ireland). In short, wash your hands thoroughly and don’t touch your face.
In the context of the climate crisis, a legitimate existential threat to humanity, the market’s reaction to the coronavirus is insulting. It actually sickens me a bit. Because Wall Street types have seen all the global pandemic movies and played video games where spores turn people into zombies, they perceive the coronavirus as a serious threat. You know what’s a SERIOUS threat, Wall Street? The aggressive destruction of the Amazon—what might be the last thing sequestering carbon that keeps us from an inescapable climate Armageddon. You know what else is a serious threat? The fact that we probably won’t have ANY tropical reefs within thirty years. Want another? Ocean acidification means an enormous percentage of the world will no longer have an essential source of its food.
We continue to burn an enormous amount of fossil fuels in the specter of rapid mass extinction. We continue to produce vast quantities of plastic that end up in our food supply. We have so much in our food supply, in fact, that we eat approximately a credit card’s worth of plastic each week.
And Wall Street hasn’t batted an eye at any of that. In fact, we’ve seen the strongest bull market in US history in spite of all that information. But one nasty virus comes along and the market tumbles. Why? Well, in part, Wall Street has made an enormous amount of money from all of the environmental disaster I’ve mentioned above. The status quo made them enormously wealthy, so why stop? End of the world? Ha! I have a bunker in New Zealand to live out the apocalypse — who cares?
I’m absolutely disgusted by the fact Wall Street doesn’t react so dramatically to the climate crisis, and you should be too.
The people at the top are to blame, yes, but we put them there. Vote for change. Vote because you’re angry. Vote because humanity and much of life on earth literally depend on it.